Selected and retold by G. C.Thornley
Series Editors: Andy Hopkins and Jocelyn Potter
P earson E d ucation L im ited
Edinburgh Gate, Harlow,
Essex CM20 2JE, England
and Associated Companies throughout the world.
First published in the Longman Simplified English Series 1958
First published in the Longman Fiction Series 1993
This compilation first published 1996
First published by Penguin Books 1999
This edition published 2008
5 7 9 10 8 6
We are grateful to the following for permission to reproduce simplified versions of copyright
material: A. P. Watt Ltd on behalf o f the Royal Literary Fund for “Lord Mountdrago” by W Somerset
Maugham from “The Mixture as Before”; the Literary Executors of the Estate of H. G. Wells for
“The Man Who Could Work Miracles” by H. G. Wells; the Trustees of the Wodehouse Estate for
“Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend” from Blandings Castle by P. G. Wodehouse.
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The M an W ho Could W ork Miracles H . G. Wells
The M odel Millionaire Oscar Wilde
Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend P G. Wodehouse
The D oll’s House Katherine Mansfield
X -ing a Paragraph Edgar Allan Poe
The Courtship o f Susan Bell A nthony Trollope
Lord M ountdrago W Somerset Maugham
Soon Else moved close to her sister. B y now she had forgotten the angry
lady. She smiled her rare smile.
‘I saw the little lamp,’ she said softly.
Then both were silent once more.
As most of the short stories in this collection do, ‘The D oll’s
H ouse’ ends with a surprise. In the final scene we see the poor
little girls, w ho are ignored by everyone, with happy smiles on
their faces. This surprising turn o f events gives the reader a clear
understanding o f what is im portant in the story. Readers in the
late nineteenth- and early tw entieth-centuries enjoyed a clever
The characters themselves are another attractive feature
o f these stories. Like readers a hundred years ago, we quickly
become involved in the fictional lives o f interesting, sometimes
odd, sometimes heroic men, wom en and children and want to
find out w hat happens to them.
The stories were w ritten by well-known writers from Britain,
Ireland, N ew Zealand and the U nited States, and this collection
presents the short story at its best. A num ber of the writers
represented here —Katherine Mansfield, Edgar Allan Poe and W.
Somerset M augham —are known above all for their short stories;
others are more famous for their plays and novels.
The British w riter H erbert George Wells (1866—1946) began life
as the son o f an unsuccessful small businessman and professional
sportsman. H e was sent to work in a shop at an early age and
wrote about this experience in several of his novels. He eventually
became a teacher and wrote newspaper and magazine articles at
the same time. He questioned society’s rules and was always an
important, independent thinker with m odern, original ideas.
At the end of the nineteenth century, H.G. Wells, with Jules
Verne, created a new type o f literature: science fiction. Wells was
also a master o f the humorous novel and the short story, and
included in his fiction ideas on w om en’s rights, science, progress
and politics. In addition, he wrote many non-fiction books which
mirrored the interest and excitement people felt about these
topics at the turn o f the century.
Wells’s work continues to be popular today because many of
his books have been made into films or television programmes.
These include The Time Machine, The War o f the Worlds, The Island
of Doctor Moreau and The Invisible M an (all o f which are also
Irish-born Oscar W ilde (1854—1900) had great success with
his short stories, plays and poems, but he was even more famous
for his personality and lifestyle. His m other was a poet and society
hostess, and his father was a leading ear and eye doctor. It is
understandable that W ilde became a great writer, and even more
skilled at conversation.
Wilde believed that he could make his life into a work of
art, and his unusual lifestyle always attracted attention. H e was
m arried and had two sons, but his serious friendship w ith Lord
Alfred Douglas led to a separation between him and his wife. He
was sent to prison in 1895 for what was then considered a sexual
W ilde’s work continues to be popular today because he had a
great gift for describing nineteenth-century upper-class society.
His plays, particularly Lady Windermere’s Fan, The Importance
o f Being Ernest and A n Ideal Husband (which is also a Penguin
Reader), are imaginative, romantic, serious, emotional and very
Pelham Grenville W odehouse (1881—1975) spent most of his
childhood in England in the care of various aunts, while his
father worked for the British government in H ong Kong. After
finishing his education, the young W odehouse tried a career in
banking in H ong Kong but soon gave it up to become a writer.
His first novel came out in 1902, and eventually he wrote more
than 120 books. He achieved international popularity with
humorous stories about amusing characters in difficult situations.
The best know n o f these characters are the helpless but likeable
upper-class young man Bertie Wooster and his servant Jeeves.
P. G. W odehouse also wrote plays and musicals. His very
successful w riting career was temporarily stopped during World
War II, and he was captured by the Germans in 1940. After
the war W odehouse settled in the U nited States, becom ing an
American citizen in 1955. He continued to be very popular with
his many readers, and Q ueen Elizabeth II gave him the title Sir
Pelham W odehouse for his life’s work shortly before his death.
Katherine Mansfield is the pen name o f Kathleen Mansfield
Beauchamp (1888—1923). She was recognized as a master o f the
short story, best know n for sensitive stories which often feature
wom en and children as main characters and in which a person’s
true nature is uncovered at an im portant m om ent or after an
im portant event.
Born in N ew Zealand, Mansfield went to London to study
music and lived in Europe for most o f her life. H er unhappy
marriage in 1909 was followed by several unsuccessful love affairs.
She became well know n after writing short stories and magazine
articles, and especially after her book Bliss and Other Stories came
out in 1920.
In her later years she was struck by a disease that remained
w ith her until she died at the tragically young age of thirty-four.
Some of her collections o f short stories appeared after her death.
The American Edgar Allan Poe (1809—49) lost his parents at a
young age and was brought up by M r and Mrs Allan. As a young
man, he argued w ith M r Allan about money, and at the age of
twenty-two he found himself with no family, no money, and no
job. However, he knew that he wanted to write. Between 1827
and 1831 Poe wrote three books o f poems, but his real skill lay in
another direction. His first book o f stories came out in 1839 and,
more than any other American writer, he shaped the m odern
short story and is know n for introducing the detective story.
Although he was admired as a writer, Poe was almost always
poor and unhappy. His life sometimes m irrored the dark topics
in his writing. His young wife died in 1847, and afterwards Poe
suffered greatly from illnesses o f the body and the mind. Today
Poe is known as one o f the best early writers of frightening stories
and m urder mysteries, but he could also w rite light-heartedly, as
in ‘X -ing a Paragraph’, the story in this collection.
Like many o f the writers in this collection, the great British
w riter Anthony Trollope (1815—82) had an unhappy start in life.
His father was frequently in debt and, as a result, the family was
forced to move often. Although he went to good schools, his
poverty made Anthony an unhappy schoolboy. After his father
died, his m other supported herself and her children by writing a
num ber o f popular books.
Trollope worked for the Post Office from 1834 to 1867 and
travelled to Egypt, the West Indies and the U nited States as part
o f this job. At the same time he began writing, finishing his first
novel in 1847. H e wrote about sixty works, including novels,
travel books and collections of short stories. His most famous
works were two series of books: the Barchester series, based
around the lives o f church officials and their families, and the
Palliser series, set in the world of politics and government. These
series cover more than twenty years of Trollope’s w riting career.
He was especially skilful at creating believable characters with
full, rich lives.
The famous British w riter William Somerset Maugham
(1874—1965) was born in Paris. His m other died w hen he was
eight and his father when he was ten. H e then lived in England
M augham studied medicine before deciding to become a
writer. His first novel came out in 1897 and was based on his
experiences in poor parts o f London w hen he was working as a
medical clerk. By 1908 he was famous and successful, with four
plays running in different theatres in London at the same time.
D uring the First World War he served as an intelligence officer
and developed a love o f travel that stayed w ith him for the rest
of his life. Leaving his wife and daughter at home, he journeyed
around the world, eventually settling in 1926 on the French
Riviera, where his house became a m eeting place for a wide
variety o f writers, politicians and other famous people of the
M augham ’s ability to involve the reader very quickly made
him an excellent short-story writer. His most famous novel is O f
Human Bondage, and although it is fiction, it was based closely on
M augham’s own life.
These stories are extremely different in their subject matter.
Some are about ordinary people to w hom something surprising
happens, such as Fotheringay in ‘The M an W ho Could W ork
Miracles’, or Susan Bell in ‘The Courtship o f Susan Bell’. Some,
such as ‘Lord M ountdrago’ and ‘The M odel Millionaire’, contain
unusual characters from the upper levels o f society.
‘Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend’ presents two very
different characters from opposite ends of the society, between
w hom an unusual relationship develops. Some o f the stories, like
this one, are light-hearted and amusing; others are serious. Some
have happy endings; others end in tragedy and death. They are all,
however, excellent examples of the short story.
In 1842, Edgar Allan Poe wrote a formal definition of this
type o f literature. He described it as a piece w ritten to produce a
single effect. In general, the short story can be told or read on a
single occasion; the central features of character and situation are
expressed in a few well-chosen words that hold our attention to
The Man W ho Could Work Miracles
H. G. Wells
Until he was thirty years old, Fotheringay did not believe in
miracles. In fact he discovered his own unusual powers at the
m om ent when he was claiming that miracles were quite
impossible. He was having a drink at his local inn, and Toddy
Beamish was driving him to the limits of his patience by
disagreeing w ith everything he said.
‘So you say,’ answered Beamish whenever Fotheringay spoke.
There were present, besides these two, a very dusty cyclist; the
innkeeper, Cox; and fat Miss Maybridge, w ho served behind the
bar. She was standing w ith her back to M r Fotheringay, washing
glasses; the others were watching him.
‘Listen, M r Beamish,’ said M r Fotheringay, annoyed by his
opposition. ‘Let us clearly understand what a miracle is. It’s
something against the laws of nature done by the power of Will,
something that couldn’t happen w ithout being specially willed.’
‘So you say,’ said M r Beamish.
The cyclist agreed with M r Fotheringay, but the innkeeper did
not express an opinion.
‘For example,’ said M r Fotheringay, ‘here would be a miracle.
That lamp, in the norm al course o f nature, couldn’t burn like that
upside down, could it, Beamish?’
‘ You say it couldn’t,’ said Beamish.
‘And you?’ said Fotheringay. ‘You don’t mean to say —? ’
‘No,’ said Beamish at last. ‘No, it couldn’t.’
‘Very well,’ said M r Fotheringay. ‘T hen here comes someone,
perhaps myself, and stands here, perhaps, and says to that lamp, as
I might do, collecting all my will - “Turn upside down without
breaking, and go on burning steadily,” and —Hullo!’
It was enough to make anyone say ‘Hullo!’ The impossible had
happened. The lamp hung upside down in the air, burning
quietly with its flame pointing down. It was as solid as ever a
M r Fotheringay stood with a finger stretched out and the
troubled face o f one expecting a terrible crash. The cyclist, who
was sitting next to the lamp, jum ped away. Miss Maybridge
turned and cried out. For nearly three seconds the lamp
remained as it was. A faint cry o f pain came from M r
Fotheringay. ‘I can’t keep it up,’ he said, ‘any longer.’ The lamp
suddenly fell, broke on the floor, and went out.
It was lucky that it had a metal container, or the whole place
would have been on fire. M r Cox was the first to speak,
remarking that M r Fotheringay was a fool. Fotheringay himself
was astonished at what had happened. The conversation which
followed gave no explanation of the matter, and the general
opinion agreed w ith M r C ox’s view that Fotheringay was a fool
for playing such a trick. His own m ind was terribly confused, and
he rather agreed w ith them.
He went home red-faced and hot. He watched each o f the ten
street lamps nervously as he passed it. It was only w hen he found
himself in his bedroom that he was able to think clearly.
He had taken off his shoes and was sitting on the bed, saying
for the seventeenth time, ‘I didn’t want the thing to turn over,’
w hen he remembered that just by saying the commanding
words, he had willed the thing to happen. H e decided to try his
new powers again.
He pointed to the candle and collected his thoughts together,
though he felt that he was behaving foolishly. But in a second
that feeling disappeared. ‘Be raised up,’ he said. The candle rose
up, hung in the air for a mom ent, and then fell with a crash on
his table, leaving him in darkness.
For a time M r Fotheringay sat there, perfectly still. ‘It did
happen,’ he said. ‘And how I’m going to explain it, I don’t know.’
He felt in his pockets for a match. H e could find none, so he felt
on the table. H e tried his coat, and there were none there, and
then it came to his m ind that miracles were possible even with
matches. H e stretched out a hand. ‘Let there be a match in that
hand,’ he said. He felt a light object fall across his hand, and his
fingers closed on a match.
After several useless attempts to light this, he threw it down;
and then he realized that he could have willed it to be lit. He did
so, and saw it burning on the table. H e picked it up quickly, and it
went out. H e became more adventurous and put the candle back
in its place. ‘Be lit!’ said M r Fotheringay, and immediately the
candle burst into flame. For a time he looked at it and then he
looked carefully into the mirror.
‘W hat about miracles now?’ said M r Fotheringay, speaking to
his own shadowed face.
M r Fotheringay was becoming very confused. So far as he could
understand, he had only to will things and they would happen.
After his first experiences, he wished to be more careful. But he
lifted a sheet of paper into the air, and turned a glass of water pink
and then green, and got himself a new toothbrush. By the early
hours of the morning he had decided that willpower must be
unusual and strong. The fears of his first discovery were now mixed
with pride and thoughts of how he could use his powers to his
advantage. He heard the church clock strike one, and undressed in
order to get into bed without further delay. As he struggled to
undress, he had a wonderful idea. ‘Let me be in bed,’ he said, and
found himself there. ‘Undressed,’ he said and, finding the sheets
cold, added quickly, ‘and in a soft woollen nightshirt. Ah!’ he said
with pleasure. ‘And now let me be comfortably asleep
He awoke at his usual hour, and wondered if his experiences
had been a dream. He decided to test his skills again. He had
three eggs for breakfast; two were supplied by his housekeeper;
one was a m uch better egg, laid, cooked and served by his own
unusual will. He hurried off to work very excited. All day he
could do no work because of his astonishing new selfknowledge, but this did not matter because he did all the work
by a miracle in the last ten minutes.
As the day passed, his state o f mind changed from wonder to
pleasure. It was clear that he must be careful how he lifted
anything that was breakable, but in other ways his powers seemed
more exciting the more he thought about them. He increased his
personal property by making new things for himself, but he
could see that he must be careful about that too. People might
wonder how he got them.
After supper he w ent out for a walk on a quiet street to try a
few miracles in private by the gas works.
His attempts could perhaps have been more interesting, but
apart from his willpower M r Fotheringay was not a very
interesting man. He stuck his walking stick into the ground and
commanded the dry wood to grow flowers. The air was
immediately full o f the smell o f roses, but his satisfaction ended
when he heard footsteps. He was afraid that someone would
discover his powers, and he said quickly to the stick, ‘Go back.’
W hat he meant was,‘Change back’, but the stick went backwards
at high speed, and there came a shout o f anger.
‘W ho are you throwing rose bushes at, you fool?’ cried a voice.
‘I’m sorry,’ said Fotheringay. He saw W inch, one o f the three
local policemen, coming towards him.
‘W hat do you mean by it?’ asked the policeman. ‘Hullo! It’s
you, is it? The man who broke the lamp at the inn!’
‘I don’t mean anything by it,’ said M r Fotheringay. ‘N othing
‘W hy did you do it, then? Do you know that stick hurt?’
For the m om ent Fotheringay could not think why he had done
it. His silence seemed to anger Mr Winch. ‘You’ve been attacking
the police, young man, this time.That’s what you’ve done.’
‘Listen, M r W inch,’ said M r Fotheringay, angry and confused.
‘I’m very sorry.The fact is . . . ’
He could think o f no answer except the truth. ‘I was working
‘Working a .. . ! Listen! D on’t talk nonsense. Working a miracle!
Really! Miracle! Well, that’s very funny! You’re the man who
doesn’t believe in m iracles.. . The fact is, this is another o f your
foolish tricks. N ow I tell you —’
But M r Fotheringay never heard what M r W inch was going to
tell him. H e realized that he had given his valuable secret to the
whole world. H e became violently angry and shouted, ‘Listen,
I’ve had enough of this. I’ll show you a foolish trick. Disappear!
H e was alone.
M r Fotheringay perform ed no more miracles that night, and
he did not trouble to see what had happened to his flowering
stick. He returned to the town, afraid and very quiet, and went to
his bedroom. ‘G ood heavens!’ he said. ‘It’s a powerful gift — an
extremely powerful gift. I didn’t mean to go that far. I wonder
where W inch has gone.’
He sat on the bed and took off his shoes. He had a happy
thought and sent the policeman to San Francisco, and went to
bed. In the night he dreamt of W inch’s anger.
The next day Fotheringay heard two interesting pieces of
news. Someone had planted a most beautiful climbing rose near
M r Gom shott’s house, and everyone was looking for Policeman
M r Fotheringay was thoughtful all that day, and performed no
miracles except some to help Winch, and the miracle of completing
his day’s work on time. Most of the time he was thinking of Winch.
O n Sunday evening he went to church, and strangely enough
the minister, M r Maydig, spoke about ‘things that are not lawful’.
M r Fotheringay was not a regular churchgoer but decided to tell
M r Maydig about his powers, and to ask his advice.
M r Maydig, a thin, excitable man with a long neck, was
pleased w hen the young man asked to speak to him. He took
him to his study, gave him a comfortable seat and, standing in
front o f a cheerful fire, asked M r Fotheringay to state his business.
At first M r Fotheringay found some difficulty in opening the
subject. ‘You will hardly believe me, M r M ay dig.. . ’ and so on
for some time. H e tried a question at last, and asked M r Maydig
his opinion o f miracles.
‘You don’t believe, I suppose,’ said Fotheringay, ‘that some
com m on sort o f person —like myself, for example —might have
something strange inside him that made him able to do things by
‘It’s possible,’ said M r M aydig.‘Something o f that sort, perhaps,
‘If I may try with something here, I think I can show you
what I mean,’ said M r Fotheringay. ‘N ow that pot on the table,
for example. I want to know w hether this is a miracle or not.’
He pointed to the pot and said, ‘Be a bowl o f flowers.’
The pot did as it was ordered.
M r Maydig jum ped violently at the change, and stood looking
from Fotheringay to the flowers. H e said nothing. Slowly he
leaned over the table and smelt the flowers; they were fresh and
very fine. Then he looked at Fotheringay again.
‘H ow did you do that?’ he asked.
M r Fotheringay said, ‘I just told it - and there you are. Is that a
miracle, or what is it? And what do you think is the m atter with
me? That’s what I want to ask.’
‘It’s a most astonishing thing.’
‘And last week I didn’t know I could do things like that. It
came quite suddenly. It’s something strange about my will, I
‘Is that - the only thing? Could you do other things besides
‘O h, yes!’ said M r Fotheringay. ‘Anything.’ H e thought a little.
‘Look!’ He pointed. ‘Change into a bowl o f fish. You see that, M r
‘It’s unbelievable. You are either a most unusual... But n o . . . ’
‘I could change it into anything,’ said M r Fotheringay. ‘Be a
bird, will you?’
In another m om ent a blue bird was flying round the room and
M r Maydig had to bend his head every time it came near him.
‘Stop there, will you?’ said M r Fotheringay; and the bird hung
still in the air. ‘I could change it back to a bowl o f flowers,’ he
said, and after placing the bird on the table he worked that
miracle. ‘I expect you want your pot back,’ he said, and brought
back the pot.
M r Maydig said nothing while he watched all these changes,
but he gave a small cry every now and then. He picked up the
pot carefully, examined it, and put it back on the table. ‘W ell!’ was
the only expression of his feelings.
‘N ow after that, it’s easier to explain what I wanted to ask
you,’ said M r Fotheringay; and he told the whole story to M r
Maydig, beginning with the lamp at the inn and several times
m entioning W inch. M r Maydig listened carefully, and interrupted
when Fotheringay was talking about the third egg he had caused
to appear at breakfast.
‘It’s possible,’ said M aydig,‘but astonishing. The power to work
miracles is a gift and a very rare gift.Yes —yes. Go on. Go on.’
M r Fotheringay went on to talk about W inch. ‘It’s this that
troubles me most,’ he said, ‘and I’m in need o f advice mostly
about W inch. O f course he’s in San Francisco — wherever San
Francisco may be —but it’s awkward for both of us, M r Maydig. I
don’t see how he can understand what has happened, and he
must be very angry with me. H e may be trying to come back
here to get me. I send him back by a miracle every few hours,
w hen I think o f it. O f course he w on’t be able to understand
that, and if he buys a ticket every time it will cost him a lot of
money. I’ve done the best I could for him. But I’m in a very
M r Maydig looked serious. ‘Yes, you are. H ow are you going
to end it?’ H e became confused. ‘But w e’ll leave W inch for a
little and discuss the whole subject,’ continued M r Maydig.
‘I don’t think this is criminal at all. No, it’s just miracles, miracles
of the very highest class.’
He began to walk around. M r Fotheringay sat with his arm on
the table and his head on his arm, looking worried. ‘I don’t see
what I can do about W inch,’ he said.
‘If you can work miracles,’ said M r Maydig, ‘you can solve the
problem of W inch. M y dear sir, you are a most im portant man —
a man of the most astonishing possibilities. The things you could
do. . .’
‘Yes, I’ve thought of a thing or two,’ said M r Fotheringay. ‘But
I thought it better to ask someone.’
‘Quite right,’ said M r Maydig. He stopped and looked at
Fotheringay. ‘It’s almost an unlimited gift. Let us test your powers.’
And so, though it is hard to believe, in the little study on the
evening of Sunday, 10 November, 1896, M r Fotheringay, urged on
by M r Maydig, began to work miracles. The reader’s attention is
specially called to the date. He will object — probably he has
already objected —that certain events in this story are improbable;
that if these things had really happened they would have been in
the newspapers long ago. The details which follow now will be
particularly hard to accept, because they show, among other things,
that he or she, the reader, must have been killed in a strange and
violent manner in the past. As a matter of fact the reader was killed.
In the remaining part of this story that will become perfectly clear,
and every reasonable reader will accept the fact.
At first the miracles worked by M r Fotheringay were little
things with cups and such things. After he and M r Maydig had
worked several o f these, their sense o f power grew, their
imagination increased, and they wanted to do greater things.
Their first larger miracle was connected w ith the meal to which
M r Maydig led M r Fotheringay. It was not a good meal, and M r
Maydig was expressing his sorrow at this w hen M r Fotheringay
saw his opportunity.
‘D on’t you think, M r Maydig,’ he said, ‘I m ig ht... ?’
‘M y dear Fotheringay! O f course! I didn’t think.’
M r Fotheringay waved his hand. ‘W hat shall we have?’ he said,
and following M r Maydig’s orders produced a m uch better meal.
They sat for a long time at their supper, talking as equals. ‘By
the way,’ said M r Fotheringay, ‘I might be able to help you with
all your meals.’ H e put some food into his m outh. ‘I was thinking
that I might be able to work a miracle on your housekeeper, Mrs
M r Maydig put down his glass and looked doubtful. ‘She
strongly objects to being troubled, you know, M r Fotheringay.
And —as a m atter o f fact —it’s after 11 o’clock, and she’s probably
in bed and asleep.’
M r Fotheringay considered these objections. ‘I don’t see why
it shouldn’t be done in her sleep.’
For a time M r Maydig opposed the idea, and then he agreed.
M r Fotheringay gave his orders, and the two gentlemen went on
with their meal, feeling slightly anxious. W hile they were talking
of Mrs M inchin, they heard some strange noises coming from
upstairs. M r Maydig left the room quickly. M r Fotheringay heard
him calling the housekeeper and then his footsteps going softly
up to her.
In a m inute or two M r Maydig returned, his face smiling.
‘W onderful!’ he said. ‘W onderful!’
He began walking around the room. ‘Poor woman! A most
impressive change! She had got up out o f her sleep to get rid of a
bottle of alcohol that she was keeping in her room. And she
admitted it too, through the crack of the door. This may be the
start o f the most wonderful possibilities. If we can make this
change in her. . . ’
‘And about M r W inch . . . ’ said Fotheringay.
M r Maydig waved the W inch difficulty away, and made some
proposals. These proposals are not part o f this story, but they were
good-natured and quite astonishing. In the early hours M r
Maydig and M r Fotheringay were outside under the moon, M r
Maydig waving his arms, M r Fotheringay no longer afraid of his
greatness. They changed all heavy drinkers into good men; they
changed all alcohol into water. They improved the running of the
trains and the soil o f O ne Tree Hill, and they were considering
what could be done with the broken part o f South Bridge. ‘The
place,’ said M r Maydig, ‘w on’t be the same place tomorrow. How
surprised and thankful everyone will be!’ And just at that
m om ent the church clock struck three.
‘O h!’ said M r Fotheringay, ‘that’s three o ’clock! I must be
going home. I’ve got to be at work by eight o’clock.’
‘W e’re only just starting,’ said M r Maydig, full of the sweetness
of unlimited power. ‘W e’re only beginning. T hink of all the good
w e’re doing. W hen people wake
‘B u t... ’ said M r Fotheringay.
M r Maydig seized his arm. His eyes were bright and wild.
‘M y dear man,’ he said, ‘there’s no hurry. Look!’ H e pointed to
the m oon.‘Stop it!’ he said.‘W hy not?’
M r Fotheringay looked at the full moon.
‘That’s too much,’ he said.
‘W hy not?’ said M r Maydig. ‘O f course the m oon doesn’t stop.
You stop the turning o f the earth, you know. Tim e stops. It isn’t
‘H ’m!’ said M r Fotheringay.‘Well, I’ll try.’
He spoke to the earth. ‘J ust stop turning, will you?’ said M r
Immediately he was flying head over heels through the air at
high speed. Although he was turning round and round, he was
able to think. H e thought in a second, and willed, ‘Let me come
down safe and unhurt.’
He willed it only just in time, for his clothes, heated by his
rapid m ovement through the air, were beginning to burn. He
came down on some freshly turned earth. A large am ount o f
stone, very like the clock tower which had stood in the middle of
the market square, hit the earth near him and broke into pieces. A
flying cow hit one o f the larger blocks and burst like an egg.
There was a crash that made all the most violent crashes o f his
life sound like falling dust. A great w ind roared all round him, so
that he could hardly lift his head to look. For a time he was too
breathless even to see where he was or w hat had happened.
‘Good heavens!’ he said. ‘I was nearly killed! W hat has gone
wrong? Storms and thunder! And only a minute ago, a fine night.
What a wind! It’s Maydig’s fault. If I go on like this, I’m going to
have a terrible accident... W here’s Maydig?’
H e looked around him as well as he could. The appearance of
things was extremely strange. ‘The sky’s all right,’ said M r
Fotheringay. ‘And that’s about all that is right. T here’s the m oon
overhead. Just as it was. Bright as midday. But the rest? W here’s
the village? W here’s anything? And what started this wind? I
didn’t order a wind.’
M r Fotheringay struggled unsuccessfully to get to his feet, and
remained on the ground.
Far and wide nothing could be seen through the dust that flew
in the w ind except piles of earth and ruins. N o trees, no houses,
no familiar shapes, only disorder and a rapidly rising storm.
You see, w hen M r Fotheringay stopped the earth, he said
nothing about the things on its surface. And the earth turns so
fast that parts of its surface are travelling at rather more than a
thousand miles an hour; in England, at more than half that speed.
So the village, and M r Maydig, and M r Fotheringay, and
everything and everybody had been thrown violently forward at
about nine miles per second —that is to say, m uch more violently
than if they had been fired out of a gun. And every hum an being,
every living creature, every house and every tree —all the world
as we know it —had been completely destroyed. That was all.
These things M r Fotheringay did not fully understand. But he
saw that his miracle had gone wrong, and w ith that a great hatred
of miracles came on him. H e was in darkness now, for the clouds
had covered over the m oon. A great roaring of w ind and water
filled the earth and sky, and he saw a wall o f water pouring
‘Maydig!’ cried M r Fotheringay’s weak voice in the roar of the
storm .‘Here! —Maydig!’
‘Stop!’ cried M r Fotheringay to the wall o f water. ‘O h, stop!’
‘J ust a m om ent,’ said M r Fotheringay to the storm and the
thunder. ‘Stop just a m om ent while I collect my thoughts ... And
now what shall I do?’ he said. ‘O h, I wish Maydig was here.’
‘I know,’ said M r Fotheringay. ‘And let’s have it right this time.
Let nothing that I’m going to order happen until I say “O ff” ...
O h, I wish I had thought of that before!’
He lifted his little voice against the roaring wind, shouting
louder and louder in an attempt to hear himself speak. ‘Now!
Rem em ber what I said just now. In the first place, w hen all I’ve
asked for is done, let me lose my power to work miracles; let my
will become just like anybody else’s will, and let all these
dangerous miracles be stopped. T hat’s the first thing. And the
second is — let everything be just as it was before that lamp
turned upside down. D o you understand? N o more miracles,
everything as it was — me back at the inn just before I had my
drink.That’s it! Yes.’
He dug his fingers into the earth, closed his eyes, and said
Everything became perfectly still. H e knew that he was
‘So you say,’ said a voice.
He opened his eyes. H e was at the inn, arguing about miracles
with Toddy Beamish. H e had a feeling o f some great thing
forgotten, which passed immediately. You see, except for the loss
o f his powers, everything was back as it had been; his m ind and
mem ory were now just as they had been at the time when this
story began. So he knew nothing o f all that is told here, knows
nothing o f all that is told here to this day. And among other
things, of course, he still did not believe in miracles.
‘I tell you that miracles can’t possibly happen,’ he said,‘and I’m
prepared to prove it.’
‘That’s what you think,’ said Beamish. ‘Prove it if you can.’
‘Listen, M r Beamish,’ said M r Fotheringay. ‘Let us clearly
understand what a miracle is ... ’
The Model Millionaire
Unless one is wealthy there is no use in being a charming person.
The poor should be ordinary and practical. It is better to have a
perm anent income than to be interesting. These are the great
truths o f m odern life which Hughie Erskine never realized. Poor
Hughie! He was not, we must admit, a man o f great intelligence.
He never said a clever or even an unkind thing in his life. But
then he was wonderfully good-looking, w ith his brown hair, his
clear-cut features, and his grey eyes. H e was as popular w ith men
as he was with wom en, and he had every quality except that of
making money. His father, on his death, had left him his sword
and a History o f the Peninsular War in 15 parts. Hughie hung the
first above his mirror, put the second on a shelf, and lived on two
hundred pounds a year that an old aunt allowed him. He had
tried everything. He had bought and sold shares for six months;
but how could he succeed among experienced men? H e had
been a tea trader for a little longer, but he had soon tired o f that.
Then he had tried selling wine, but nobody bought any. At last he
became nothing, a charming, useless young m an w ith perfect
features and no profession.
To make matters worse, he was in love. The girl he loved was
Laura M erton, the daughter of a form er army officer who had
lost his temper and his health in India, and had never found either
of them again. Hughie loved her so much that he was ready to
kiss her feet; and Laura loved him too. They were the best-looking
pair in London, and had no money at all. H er father was very
fond of Hughie, but would not hear of any marriage plans.
‘Come to me, my boy, when you have got ten thousand
pounds of your own, and we will see about it,’ he used to say.
O ne morning, Hughie called in to see a great friend o f his,
Alan Trevor. Trevor was a painter. O f course, few people are not
these days. But he was also an artist, and artists are rather rare. He
was a strange, rough man, with a spotty face and an overgrown
red beard. But w hen he took up the brush he was a real master,
and his pictures were very popular. He had been m uch attracted
by Hughie at first, it must be admitted, just because of his
personal charm. ‘The only people a painter should know,’ he used
to say,‘are people w ho are both beautiful and stupid, people who
are a pleasure to look at and restful to talk to.’ But after he got to
know Hughie better, he liked him quite as m uch for his bright,
cheerful spirits, and his generous, carefree nature, and had asked
him to visit whenever he liked.
W hen Hughie came in, he found Trevor putting the finishing
touches to a wonderful life-size picture of a beggar. The beggar
himself was standing on a raised platform in a corner o f the
room. He was a tired old man w ith a lined face and a sad
expression. Over his shoulder was thrown a rough brown coat, all
torn and full o f holes; his thick boots were old and mended, and
with one hand he leant on a rough stick, while with the other he
held out his old hat for money.
‘W hat an astonishing m odel!’ whispered Hughie, as he shook
hands w ith his friend.
‘An astonishing model?’ shouted Trevor at the top o f his voice;
‘I should think so! Such beggars are not m et with every day
Good heavens! W hat a picture Rem brandt would have made of
‘Poor old man!’ said Hughie. ‘H ow miserable he looks! But I
suppose, to you painters, his face is his fortune.’
‘Certainly,’ replied Trevor, ‘you don’t want a beggar to look
happy, do you?’
‘H ow m uch does a model get for being painted?’ asked
Hughie, as he found himself a comfortable seat.
‘A shilling an hour.’